Can someone rephrase this?

Old 04-18-2011, 01:24 PM
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Can someone rephrase this?

Reading Melody Beattie right now and I know I am missing the point. Was hoping someone could make the point in a different way.

I almost feel like detachment means you ignore what another person is doing to be obnoxious/unhealthy/inappropriate and just live inside a happy little bubble. Regardless of their behavior, you are so good at detaching with love, you are happy in spite of that behavior. As a result, you can stay in the relationship.

Like I said, I know I am missing the point. Anyone have any thoughts to contribute? I think my confusion goes along with my obvious inability to set boundaries. :-)
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Old 04-18-2011, 01:45 PM
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Well, there are definately people who stay in their bubble with an active user, but I don't think that's what she is saying at all.Detaching is so tricky at first, we can do it in a punishing/witholding kind of way, but that's not real detachment.
I think when we start to truly detach, things become clearer and often we see that having a very close,intimate relationship with someone in active addiction is not a good option for us.
The book is not specific to spousal or love relationships.For example..when I detached from my daughter when she was using, I accepted that she was doing unhealthy, sick behavior.I stopped spending all my time and energy trying to get her better.I let her follow her own path (of destruction) without getting in the way.I could not live with her, so she had to move.It was not healthy for us to be in lots of contact, so I had very little contact with her.That was detaching..not letting her live on my house, throw fits, lie,steal,do drugs, etc. while I lay in my happy detached bubble.That would have been impossible.We sometimes choose not to have a front row seat to someones self destruction, even though we love them..that can be loving detachment as well.
It is hard at first to understand, but that book coupled with alanon meetings got me to a place where my decisions became really easy to make..
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:25 PM
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It does/ did come across that way, at first.

I had to add experience to my reading, and SR is a MAJOR help in fleshing out what is detachment, what is cold shouldering, what is overdoing it.

I really have had to come up with a definition of my own, and it does vary person to person, because each person has different triggers, different issues with their Significant Other.

Right now, the best definition I am able to give about detachment for me, is this:

I used to be sort of tied to my As boat. I used to be on his ride.

You know how they come home or call, and there is some drama, or some anger. ..It could be that they are drunk, or that they are NOT drunk.
Either way, I would cringe, then shrivel when my A became angry. I felt like I should make it right. This took a long time to even identify, because no one wants to be that person...but I was.

I think I was over identified, maybe even DEFINED by his mood. If he was angry at me, I had to make it right, If he was drunk, I had to make his stop drinking, If he was suicidal, my life was upside down...

Another thing, I used to get all glowy and frilly and rosy eyed if he was on a great tip, was affectionate, loved me, treated me right. ALl the sh*tty crap he did the night, day, or week before just flew out the window.
I was literally riding his emotional coat tails.

My moods, my day, my experience of joy or resentment, my JOB, my KID>...WOULD ALL get put on the backburner, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER>

because I was more addicted to remediating, or experiencing HIS experience than I was to experiencing MINE.

HE can blow his top, he can love me to death, he can be drunk, or sober, and my goal is to not forget MY DAY< MY MOOD< MY KID< MY CAREER>

Keep your eyes straight ahead, on your side of the street.

Dont try to fix the A, change their mood, Make them choose something FOR YOU(this always backfires!)

It is so much more of an experiential lesson in my life.

Once you start doing it, the more you will do it, then one day, you will wake up and realize you maybe dont want to answer that call right now, you dont want to have THAT argument.

You start making the CHOICE to contribute, be supportive, and you start drawing lines so the VERY LIFE DOES NOT GET SUCKED OUT OF YOU>

And this is SELF CARE> and this is detaching.... (for me, anyway...)
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:31 PM
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When I think of detachment, I think of it like this...

I think of holding something nasty - like a dirty diaper or a smelly rag or something - at arm's length. Yes, I have to deal with it but I don't have to hold it close.

What I struggle with now is applying to more than one situation. Detaching from XAH - no problem anymore. Learning to apply this to my 10 year old DD indifference to school and homework - really having to work on that. But I am still trying. I think sometimes just sticking with it can get you further than raw skill. So I'm not giving up!
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Old 04-18-2011, 03:37 PM
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When I first started with detachment and boundaries, it helped for me to see detachment as removing my emotions from the things he did and by boundaries as protective actions for me to limit the kind of interaction I had with him.

I wasn't in a bubble denying the behavior around me, but I did keep those emotional buttons he liked to push out of reach from him and I did detour the conversation, and even left the conversation entirely when he was making grabs at them.

For example, detachment meant that when he came hom in time to eat a meal with me instead of staying out to the wee hours after work drinking, I did not stew in anger over all the other meals he missed, but rather stayed in the moment and sat down to eat with him as any other couple would. Asked about his day. Told him any interesting news of mine. When he had the shakes from not drinking that night and would spill his food, I didn't react safe to say, you okay?, you want my napkin? When he rolled his eyes while I was talking or made angry remarks that signaled his mood was turning dark, I said nothing, no sigh, no snapping, no rancor. I got up with my plate and left the room. For all he knew I was getting another napkin from the kitchen. I just never returned. My boundary was crossed and I acted on it accordingly. In the end the meal, for what we had of it together, was pleasant. What time we spent together was nice and I left it at that no holding a grudge because it wasn't more.

I equate it to watching a scary movie and covering your eyes for all the gory parts and then refusing to imagine what's happening on the screen either. That way you can enjoy the film without having nightmares later. And if all else fails, get up, take your popcorn, and go down the hall to that G-rate film for a while. Let the horror movie go on without you.

I didn't ignore him because that takes effort. Instead, I lived with him the way I chose to. Pleasantly, civilly, with respect, and caring. When he did the same, I stayed in the moment and things felt peaceful, normal. When he chose to act any other way, I got out of the way. As I got more skilled in recovery, he learned it was fruitless to keep trying to cross those boundaries or access those emotional buttons again. He tried many tactics and some things caught me off guard, but I was able to recovery quickly and keep at it.

Hope this helps.

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Old 04-18-2011, 03:48 PM
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Good stuff, Alice! Thnx
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:03 PM
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Hi Putme, here's what I got. I don't remember if you go to Alanon or not, but I dug out my detachment pamphlet, here's some examples from it:

~ Not to suffer because of the actions or inactions of other people

~Not to allow ourselves to be used or abused by others in the interest of their recovery

~Not to do for others what they could do for themselves

~Not to manipulate situations to our liking

~Not to cover up for anyone's mistakes

~Not to create a crisis

~Not to prevent a crisis if it is in the natural course of events

Hope this helps!
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Old 04-19-2011, 01:31 AM
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Originally Posted by kittykitty View Post
Hi Putme, here's what I got. I don't remember if you go to Alanon or not, but I dug out my detachment pamphlet, here's some examples from it:

~ Not to suffer because of the actions or inactions of other people
This one really stuck out for me, thanks Kitty! I have trouble with detachment, too. I read through your posts Putmeontheair, and we are in similar situations, exception being I am not married, yet. I know that my BF is trying to be sober for me, not himself (entirely). Though I know this will backfire one day because of all that I have learned, all the work that I've done (he doesn't think it will backfire- he doesn't get it...), I realized why.

I stopped drinking (completely) to be in support of him (I am not alcoholic). But, I realized the other day that I should be able to have a drink if I want to, I shouldn't feel guilty, and I shouldn't be changing my actions or who I am BASED ON HIM. If I want to stop drinking for me, great! But if I am stopping in the hopes that he will get sober- wrong!!! What I am starting to feel is resentment for not being able to live my life the way I want. And here's the realization-- one day that's what he is going to feel for me, even though he doesn't see it that way, yet, because if he doesn't drink, he isn't going to be able to live the life he wants. And the truth is, my stopping drinking I'm SURE has helped lower the triggers (i.e. no alcohol in the house, no temptation for him while watching the game, etc.) He says he's "working on it..." Trying to convince himself of the benefits of not drinking, trying to figure out "I don't know if i can live life without alcohol and I don't know if I can live life with it..." because he WILL lose me if he chooses alcohol. And he hasn't had a drink in over 2 months. We've been going to couples therapy, and thats about the only "work" he's doing. No program, no AA, no individual therapy, I don't know if he's reading or researching because he volunteers very little information and I have to dig. And even the little work he is doing, the couples therapy, I KNOW he's doing for "us," not for himself, and recently I have acknowledged that its not helping me. Going there only keeps me enmeshed in what he IS NOT doing, what he IS NOT working on, and I end up leaving frustrated and upset. So, I realize that I need to pick up more alanon meetings, ask for a sponsor, and start working the program, so I can DETACH, and not base my actions on what he is or is not doing.

Good luck in your situation. Hope I could help a little!
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Old 04-19-2011, 01:39 AM
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Melodie herself expands a bit in one of my favorite passages from Language of Letting Go.

"A helpful tool in our recovery, especially in the behavior we call detachment, is learning to identify who owns what. Then we let each person own and possess his or her rightful property.

If another person has an addiction, a problem, a feeling, or a self-defeating behavior, that is their property, not ours. If someone is a martyr immersed in negativity, controlling, or manipulative behavior, that is their issue, not ours.

If someone has acted and experienced a particular consequence, both the behavior and the consequence belong to that person.

If some one is in denial or cannot think clearly on a particular issue, that confusion belongs to him or her.

If someone has a limited or impaired ability to love or care, that is his or her property, not ours. If someone has no approval or nurturing to give away, that is that person's property.

People's lies, deceptions, tricks, manipulations, abusive behaviors, inappropriate behaviors, cheating, and tacky behaviors belong to them as well. Not to us.

People's hopes and dreams are their property. Their guilt belongs to them too. Their happiness and misery are also theirs. So are their beliefs and messages.

If some people don't like themselves, that is their choice. And other people's choices are their property, not ours.

What people choose to say and do is their business.

What is our property? Our property includes our behaviors, problems, feelings, happiness, misery, choices and messages; our ability to love, care, and nurture; our thoughts, our denial, our hopes and dreams for ourselves. Whether we allow ourselves to be controlled, manipulated, deceived, or mistreated is our business.

In recovery, we learn an appropriate sense of ownership. If something isn't ours, we don't have to take it. IF we take it, we learn to give it back. We let other people have their property, and we learn to own and take good care of what's ours.

Today, I will work at developing a clear sense of what belongs to me, and what doesn't. If it's not mine, I won't keep it. I will deal with myself, my issues, and my responsibilities. I will take my hands off what is not mine."

From Melodie Beattie's Language of Letting Go.
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